Penn State found its replacement for Joe Moorhead, and James Franklin didn’t have to look far.
Ricky Rahne, Penn State’s tight ends coach, is set to become the Nittany Lions’ new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
Meanwhile, Tyler Bowen — a former Penn State graduate assistant and Maryland’s current offensive line coach — is returning to Happy Valley as the tight ends coach, and Phil Galiano — a 17-year coaching veteran — is the Nittany Lions’ new special teams coordinator and assistant defensive line coach. Wide receivers coach Josh Gattis and offensive line coach Matt Limegrover will assume the duties of passing game coordinator and run game coordinator, respectively.
The moves come after Moorhead left for Mississippi State’s head coaching job, and running backs coach and special teams coordinator Charles Huff followed him to Starkville this week.
“We are thrilled to elevate Ricky to offensive coordinator and add Tyler and Phil to our staff,” Franklin said in a Friday night news release. “Ricky is one of the rising stars in college football. He is extremely sharp, driven and has a great rapport with our players. He has been very involved in our offensive scheme the last two years, which is why I anticipate our offense will continue to thrive under Ricky.”
Rahne has big shoes to fill, taking over for Moorhead — who guided Penn State to drastic improvements over the past two years. He led Penn State’s offense to 37.3 and 41.7 points per game in 2016 and 2017, respectively, as well as a dramatic comeback to win last year’s Big Ten championship.
Rahne’s promotion to offensive coordinator isn’t a total surprise, though.
Rahne — who worked with Franklin at Kansas State then Vanderbilt before joining him in Happy Valley in 2014 — called plays in the 2016 TaxSlayer Bowl after Penn State dismissed John Donovan and brought in Moorhead. He mentored the program’s all-time leading passer, Christian Hackenberg, as quarterbacks coach and took first-team All-Big Ten tight end Mike Gesicki under his wing when Moorhead arrived.
Franklin even hinted that Rahne, a record-setting quarterback at Cornell back in his playing days, could be more than a position coach somewhere down the line, calling him a “future coordinator” in August.
“I am extremely honored and grateful for the opportunity to be the offensive coordinator at Penn State,” Rahne said in the release. “Ever since arriving on campus, I’ve hoped that one day I would earn a chance to lead the offense at Beaver Stadium. I’ve been blessed to learn from some of the best offensive minds in the game. That knowledge gives me confidence that our talented and hard-working players, combined with a terrific coaching staff, can continue to build on our recent success.”
Bowen, who takes over coaching the tight ends for Rahne, has plenty of connections to the Penn State program.
He was an offensive lineman at Maryland while James Franklin was a Terrapins assistant. After spending 2014 in State College as a graduate assistant, he became an offensive line coach under Moorhead at Fordham. When Moorhead left for Penn State and Rams assistant Andrew Breiner was promoted to head coach, Bowen became Fordham’s offensive coordinator in 2016. The Rams averaged 40.1 points per game under Bowen’s direction.
“He has a high football IQ and tremendous passion for the game that will impact our student-athletes on a daily basis,” Franklin said of the Georgia native. “He has history with our offensive scheme, which will help this be a seamless transition.”
Added Bowen: “I am honored and privileged to be back at Penn State University, where we can continue to build on the foundation that Coach Franklin and this staff have cultivated.”
As for Galiano, a defensive consultant this season for the Nittany Lions, he spent 12 years coaching at the collegiate level, including a stint as Rutgers’ special teams coordinator in 2015.
He also served as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ assistant special teams coach in 2012 and 2013. In that final year, the Buccaneers led the NFL in kickoff return defense.
“As a kid that grew up as a Penn State fan, I always knew that this is a special place,” said Galiano, a Norristown native and Shippensburg alum. “When I got into the coaching profession, working at Penn State was always a goal of mine. I am extremely grateful to Coach Franklin for believing in me.”